They were gentle. Though I could see their hurt and their anger — and I’m ashamed to admit I took that as a good sign and congratulated myself on my role in them being “convicted by the holy spirit” — I mostly saw love and patience directed to me. Somehow they accepted me.
I was 17 the first time I really encountered the gay agenda...and I was terrified. Bracing for the worst indoctrination and attempting to guard myself against the gay, I tried very hard to keep my distance. Given how catching I knew gayness was, I did everything in my power to protect myself from the gay agenda. Concerned about the safety of children and homes being blown apart, I tried to stay away.
I was sucked in anyway.
When I was in junior high and high school, I began hearing a lot about the “gay agenda” from my parents, family, the Christian radio stations my family listened to, Christian magazines, and conferences. All around me, adults talked about their concerns regarding the agenda of the gays. It sounded so ominous the way they said “agenda.” It was years later that I realized having an agenda at a meeting wasn’t actually “gay” at all. But I digress. I wasn’t really clear on what the gay agenda was, but from what I could tell, it was pretty bad and it was somehow going to destroy families, children, men, women, and me.
There was no way I could avoid the gay agenda though — after all, I went to college for music and theater. The gay agenda underlies every Cole Porter song I sang, every Tchaikovsky phrase I perfected, every Chopin etude I learned, and every duet partner I performed with — gayness was everywhere in music and theater. I couldn’t escape it. I resisted, I resisted it hard but still they pulled me in, seducing me with their rainbows and show tunes.
They did eventually reveal their agenda to me and I was horrified. Horrified that the gay guys and girls (I didn’t even know girls could be gay!) were actually eager to share the homosexual agenda with me. They didn’t even try to hide it! I was even more horrified when I realized that their agenda was very attractive to me — beautiful, really — and I wanted to be a part of it.
Wait. How could that be?
OMG, did that mean I was gay too? Did I catch it? Did they succeed in turning me homosexual? Was I, in fact, a part of their agenda now too?
It happened slowly, yet quickly. Their indoctrination of me was so subtle and yet so sudden. The strategy was simple, really, and it had nothing to do with rainbows and show tunes.
To convert me all they did was love and accept me.
Even when I was rude to them.
Even when I mocked them.
Even when I shunned them.
Even when I preached at them.
Even when I made repulsed expressions in their direction.
Even when I refused to touch them.
Even when I argued with a teacher that I couldn’t be near them.
Even when I not-so-subtly implied that they deserved to get sick and die.
Even when I said they had ruined rainbows.
Even when I said their love wasn’t real.
Even when I labeled their sexuality a “lifestyle.”
Even when I said that I had to love the sinner but hate the sin.
Even when I never demonstrated love and only demonstrated hate toward them.
Still, they accepted me and loved me.
They were gentle. Though I could see their hurt and their anger — and I’m ashamed to admit I took that as a good sign and congratulated myself on my role in them being “convicted by the Holy Spirit” — I mostly saw love and patience directed to me. Somehow they accepted me.
I didn’t deserve it. They showed me grace like I had thought only Jesus was capable of.
And contrary to what I had been convinced of before, I didn’t suddenly turn gay or make a choice about my sexuality. I was (and still am) heterosexual. But I did start questioning everything else I had been taught.
In time, when I grew tired of constantly trying to save them and make them feel bad for who they are, something I never expected began to happen: they became my friends. They cared for me and my struggles, they helped me, laughed with me, cried with me, celebrated with me, comforted me, counseled me, and all around loved me. No conditions and without trying to change me.
That’s exactly how they did change me.
I had experienced love before and, in a few isolated experiences, acceptance, but it had never been a regular occurrence. So foreign had loving acceptance been in my life, I didn’t recognize it at first. Acceptance was something I always strove for but rarely experienced. It scared me a little bit: acceptance was dangerous, one could believe they had arrived and shouldn’t keep striving to be better.
But it was like a cool drink of sweet water after years being parched, wandering in a desert with only the occasional cactus from which to gingerly extract a few precious drops of liquid. I had found an oasis where I had been told there was only danger. For so long, my friends had been told they were broken and inherently repulsive, so my brokenness wasn’t shocking to them. They weren’t disappointed in me. They weren’t needling me to singlehandedly fix all my flaws.
It took a year, but eventually I realized that these people I had been taught to fear, encouraged to judge, indoctrinated to shun, were the most true examples of being like Jesus I had ever personally seen. Eventually, this experience would at once shake my faith and solidify it. I would go through a personal enlightenment that would nail a new thesis on the doors of my heart. Being loved and accepted brought me closer to the God I thought I had been serving, because I experienced the life-altering power of being loved by those I had hated.
And so I would love.